Helen Ganya
Polish The Machine

(Bella Union)


Helen Ganya kick-starts her latest release on a vulnerable note, confessing her deep-seated “feat of the ordinary” on opening track ‘I Will Hold That Hand For You’. Formerly recording under the name Dog In The Snow, she may have dropped the alias but her songwriting remains dark and unflinching as ever. Amid nightmarish vistas of fire and ice she covers identity, isolation and the failure to connect, alongside turning 30 in a world pathologically obsessed with youth, ‘Young Girls Never Die’ bristles at certain celebrities wheeling out inexhaustible fresh-faced girlfriends who “rot inside” once their time is up. 

This existential tone characterises the record, with Ganya’s austere, ice-cold vocals posing questions that have no easy answer. ‘Delicate Graffiti’ explores the anxiety of influence, while the battering-ram percussion of ‘Afterparty’ is punctuated with celestial arias and what sound like muffled screams. Despite densely-layered synths and ghostly overtones that recall ’80s gothic acts, the effect is far from ethereal: for all the swooning production and twinkling piano, her lyrics hit more like smelling salts. Yet within that bleak worldview, there’s a warped optimism and strength in making sure she’s the one to define it, confronting its reality head-on. Helen Ganya might quake at the ordinary, but pending apocalypse is something she can cheerfully sink her teeth into.